December 23, 1991 – an entry from my journals.
I went (to church) even though I was still sick, because I wanted to see my kids in the Christmas Program. And what I saw was a little upsetting. Instead of just enjoying my kids, I find myself constantly evaluating them – especially in comparison to other kids.
Mary was up there, she didn’t even try to sing the songs (of course she’s been gone and missed the practices). In addition to that she picked her nose. Isn’t that attractive? Will had his finger up his nose half the time, too.
But Will did not sing the songs. He kept pointing to the light in the globe and saying, above the other children’s singing, “There’s a light in there! A light in there!” And he kept turning around and around.
I am past the point where I think it’s cute. This behavior is beginning to worry me.
After the second song, Will took off down the middle aisle, and many of the children followed him, to the dismay of his teachers, and delight of some of the audience. I was mortified.
In the late summer and early fall of 1991, Mary had been evaluated by the speech therapist and the social worker in our school district and placed in a per-primary impaired classroom. Sometimes when I thought about her, looked at her, I found myself thinking about how some movement demonstrated her deficits. When she spoke, I found myself listening for and evaluating the differences in her speech.
Then I began to evaluate Will. He turned the lights off and on at our house constantly. He opened and shut doors. We had to put spring loaded latches on all the doors in the house to keep him from opening and shutting them on his sister’s fingers. He was fascinated with fans.
I went to this Christmas program, and instead of thinking that many three and five year old children will pick their nose during Christmas programs, I evaluated it as a deficit, some special impairment.
After the Christmas break I did ask Mary’s teacher if we should have Will evaluated. She said that she was thinking the same thing. Will was tested by eight different evaluators, and found to have autistic like traits, although they were reluctant to diagnose him with autism at that time. He was also placed in a pre-primary classroom the week after his fourth birthday.